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  • good friday 2014

    Thursday, April 17th, 2014

    This is for tomorrow in the remand centre. We have six services spread over the day there… I’ve been thinking a lot, after going to numerous services in prisons around the state over the last couple of weeks, how much our hatred for human nature [and ourselves] creeps into liturgy at this time of year. Perhaps the crowd weren’t that fickle on Palm Sunday. Most of them, it seems, hadn’t heard of Jesus – and nothing that’s written about Palm Sunday would indicate that there was any way they could get a picture of who he was, and why he might be God. Maybe the story tells us of people’s desperation for a saviour, not of their / our fickleness. That’s the angle we’re taking tomorrow.

    Finally, it has to be said that I don’t really like what I’ve prepared for tomorrow – and if you feel the same way I do, once you’ve read it, feel free to apply for the half time prison chaplains position we have going at the moment, so i don’t end up doing this again next year! Full service can be downloaded here: GoodFriday_MRC2014_final

    What was it about Jesus
    that was so confusing for governments
    and for ordinary people?

    Pilate couldn’t make sense of Jesus
    and half the time we can’t either.

    We want a God who comes in might and power to take all before him
    and yet we get Jesus:
    unmistakably human and vulnerable,
    trouble-maker
    peace-lover,
    political subversive
    always on the side of love, not power
    human, even to the point of death.

    We keep asking the question,
    ‘God, who are you?’
    in the hope we’ll get a different answer.
    And God just keeps coming back with this one.

    a palm sunday sending out

    Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

    for the Remand Centre this thursday :

    And now we lay down the palm branches.
    And with them we lay down
    our belief
    that there is another way for you to be God.

    As the last echo of the final alleluia fades,
    so does our hope that this journey can end
    in any other way.

    The week stretches ahead
    glory-less
    and pain-full

    Whether we walk with all faith or none
    we look towards the cross,
    knowing it is both the most human
    and most divine
    of all journeys

    travel the road with courage,
    with love,
    and with the uneasy peace that is the gift of faith
    into this holiest of weeks.

    Amen.

    god save me

    Monday, March 31st, 2014

    [probably unfinished, so I'll probably regret posting it. whatever.]

    I would rather it otherwise, God,
    but I don’t think you deliberately chose the cross.
    I think you simply chose love
    at every available moment
    even though it led
    inevitably
    to death.

    I would rather it otherwise,
    because it means faith
    is me
    making the choice
    to say yes, still,
    to love.

    And while I pray,
    God save me
    from the life of faith
    which will cost me everything,
    I fear God already has
    by making me live it.

    imagine this

    Thursday, March 20th, 2014

    imagine if, every time someone mentioned your name,
    another person mentioned, as a permanent footnote,
    the worst thing you have ever done:
    Cheryl Lawrie*.

    Imagine if, every time you were introduced at a party,
    you could see people scrolling through their memories,
    until they are able to pull out the scrap of information about you
    which they have filed for safe keeping:
    the one with the newspaper headline, or the current affair exposé,
    and the one word description:
    fraud
    thief
    killer
    psychopath
    .

    Imagine if you knew
    that every bit of good you have done, every bit of love you have shown,
    would be discounted and disbelieved as soon as anyone knew it was you who did it
    because everyone knows
    nothing good can come from you.

    Imagine if you were known only as
    the sum total of the bad you have done

    And if you can imagine that,
    then you might be able to start imagining
    how you would begin to treat the world
    in return;
    proving they were right
    because there is no point
    in trying to prove anything else.

    *I know that name! Wasn’t she the person who shoplifted the lipstick / slept with him / lied about the broken window / failed that uni subject / drank too much vodka and orange while wearing school uniform…**

    [**all or none of the above might be true]

    enough.

    Thursday, March 13th, 2014

    Lurching from one disappointment to the next crisis
    with detours via expectation, deadline and complication
    I am grateful for my newfound skill to say
    ‘enough’
    to the worry
    when I cannot say
    ‘enough’
    to the load.

    And to stay sane
    I have discarded all platitudes
    and pinterest admonitions
    to take each day as a glorious opportunity,
    and to dance as though no-one is watching

    and I submit willingly
    to my own mediocrity and failures
    and I plod through the day still I sleep.

    That too,
    thank god,
    is enough.

    power, choices, and international women’s day

    Saturday, March 8th, 2014

    I’m in a position of a little bit of power in my workplace – not as much as what’s assumed by others, more than what’s assumed by me. Probably many of us are in that space.

    It’s great. And it’s bloody hard.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the place of women in organisations – specifically in mine. It feels like the situation has gone backwards, and I don’t know whether it’s because I’m now in a position where I come face to face with the impact of attitudes – or whether it’s because things have actually got worse.

    Being in a position of power, I’m acutely aware that people ‘weight’ comments I make differently. There’s no flippant comment as a manager, and a suggestion can easily be misread as reprimand. It’s a tricky line.

    Which makes me think of this. I have that awkward situation happening, which every woman I know will find familiar: the male who doesn’t ‘get’ professional physical boundaries. And no, it’s nobody any of you will know – so stop trying to guess who it is! This person is particularly bad at it. He touches my necklaces or scarves, and an ID badge I have to wear around my neck. He holds onto them so I can’t move away.

    Sadly, I’m reading that paragraph back with the same horror that you just had reading it the first time. I can hear myself coaching other women about how to respond in such situations, and I know everything I’m meant to say [I’ve said it before, quite often, myself. I’m very practiced at this]. In this situation I know that it’s just too hard at the moment. It’s not that I’m going to offend him – I could work with offence. It’s that I’m going to scare him. I have power now, and suggestion comes across as reprimand. And in the particular context in which I need to work with this person, I can’t afford to have him scared of me.

    So instead, I’m scared of him. Or not so much scared of him, as having to mentally steel myself for every interaction; to know that I’ll be feeling acutely uncomfortable for the duration of our conversations, and physically exhausted at the end of them. Yes, I will bring it up with him. I can’t not. Next time.

    I hate myself for not having brought it up yet. I will hate myself when I do.

    And it’s this which I find exhausting as a woman: the fact that gender comes into everything, and the resulting choices I have to make, day after day, about whether to address an issue or live with it. Or is that i know I don’t have a choice anymore, but I’ve learnt I will pay its price.

    rightness

    Friday, March 7th, 2014

    if I’m honest
    and for this minute I can be
    it’s all about power

    the power I have to
    prove my rightness
    is the same power I have to let it go.

    so I do.

    anywhere else

    Thursday, March 6th, 2014

    i just realised
    that in my imagination
    the wilderness is always somewhere else;
    a foreign landscape i actively have to enter
    in the act of being faithful.

    truthfully,
    the wilderness is always where i am
    right now
    and faith is the courage to stay with it
    when i’d rather pretend i am
    anywhere else.

    nothing more

    Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

    I was asked yesterday, by someone who likes categories, ‘what I am’.
    I am agnostic at my centre, I replied, with Christian leanings.

    Which makes sense of why Lent is my favourite time of year.
    This is a random stream of consciousness to mark its beginning.

    Here we are
    at the beginning of the journey
    into the wilderness
    of being just us:
    mortal
    human
    ending as surely as we began.

    How do we ever forget this?

    And the wilderness stretches ahead,
    familiar and new,
    and we take the first step by dropping
    all we think can save us

    it’s all too heavy to carry,
    and we are tired already in our dogged attempts
    to avoid
    and accept
    truths too hard
    for knowing.

    we gasp for air
    and water
    and rest

    we wish we were at the end
    and we know we already are.

    ways to move mountains

    Friday, January 10th, 2014

    A taster for the FX-MSM conference that I’m doing some stuff at in a couple of weeks. It goes alongside this Francis Alys video

    Faith works in many ways.

    When we make the mistake of thinking it comes only by divine intervention
    and we wait for the sandstorm,
    ferocious and massive
    or for the landslide
    or earthquake -

    [‘There’, we say,
    ‘The mountain has moved.
    How great our God is!’]

    - we miss the possibility
    of which the gospels remind us,
    over and over:
    that faith sometimes takes the form
    of a group of people with a shovel
    digging once
    and again
    and again.

    and again.

    Will it hurt?
    Yes.

    Is it backbreaking, exhausting and desperate?
    Yes.

    Does it move mountains?
    Yes.

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